The Houston Texans may be the NFL’s youngest team, but they have still boasted some excellent wide receivers throughout their short history. Here are the five best wideouts to play for Houston.
5. Corey Bradford
A fifth-round pick by the Green Bay Packers in 1998, Bradford played for Houston from 2002-2005, and was a member of the inaugural team. He edges out Jabar Gaffney (a fellow original Texan) on this list due to his 18 touchdown receptions in addition to his 130 catches for 1,992 yards. Bradford was never fantastic, but he gave young quarterback David Carr a solid receiving option, and was Carr’s go-to guy for a score until a certain Miami Hurricane showed up.
4. Will Fuller
A deep-threat speedster, Fuller has been slowed by injuries. But he is still one of the fastest receivers in the league, and will be heavily counted upon in 2020 with the trade of DeAndre Hopkins. Fuller was a first-round pick in 2016 out of Notre Dame, and will play on his fifth-year option this season. Which means he has the chance to make himself a lot of money if he can avoid injury and perform well.
As a secondary option, he’s totaled 156 grabs for 2,231 yards and 16 touchdowns in 42 games. There is no question about Fuller’s talent; it’s just a matter of whether he can stay on the field. His healthiest season was his rookie year when he played in 14 games. Since then, he’s missed at least five games in each campaign. New addition Brandin Cooks doesn’t have the greatest injury history either — he’s struggled with concussions throughout his career — so this coming season will be very interesting for Houston.
3. Kevin Walter
In 2003 Walter was selected in the seventh round by the New York Giants, but didn’t make the team. He spent three seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, playing primarily on special teams, as he was targeted just 42 times. Houston saw something in him, and gave the restricted free agent and offer sheet, which the Bengals declined to match. The Texans sent a seventh-round pick to Cincy, which turned out to be an excellent investment. Walter spent seven years in Houston, catching 326 passes for 4,083 yards and 24 touchdowns. He didn’t play much during his first season with the team, but totaled over 800 receiving yards in 2007 and 2008, and over 600 in each of the next two campaigns. Walter was about as good as. No. 2 option as a QB could ask for.
2. DeAndre Hopkins
In hindsight, it seems ridiculous that Hopkins fell all the way to the 27th overall pick in 2013. He had caught 82 passes for over 1,400 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior at Clemson, but ended up being the second wide receiver selected (the first was Tavon Austin to the St. Louis Rams who went eighth overall, a huge miss). He immediately proved himself as a No. 1 receiver, and since then, has been one of the very best WRs in the NFL. As a Texan, he caught 632 passes for 8,602 yards and 54 touchdowns, gaining 1,000 or more yards in five of his seven seasons, making four Pro Bowls and three All-Pro teams. Hopkins made for an excellent target for Deshaun Watson, and it seemed as if the pair were destined for greatness over the next decade.
And then Hopkins was inexplicably traded to the Arizona Cardinals during the 2020 offseason. Houston sent Hopkins and a fourth-rounder to Arizona for a second-rounder, a fourth-rounder, and running back David Johnson, who was on a large contract and had been largely ineffective since 2016. The trade made less than zero sense for the Texans, while the Cardinals got out from a bad contract and acquired a superstar receiver for practically nothing.
1. Andre Johnson
The third overall pick in 2003, Johnson was drafted to give second-year QB David Carr a number one option, and he became just that. Johnson had prototypical size, speed, and ball skills that made him one of the league’s premier receivers for a decade. He left Houston with 1,012 catches for 13,597 yards and 64 touchdowns, despite dealing with subpar QB play for the duration of his career. He made seven Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams, but made the playoffs just twice. Johnson doesn’t get the recognition he deserves, but he is arguably the greatest Texan of all time (the only other player with a right to that title is J.J. Watt), and should end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame at some point.